Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) president Jayesh George feels that a massively poor turnout at the Greenfield Cricket Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram will cost the state a chance to host a 2023 ODI World Cup game.
The third ODI between India and Sri Lanka on Sunday, January 15, was a memorable contest. From Virat Kohli's second-highest ODI score to Shubman Gill's maiden international ton across formats on home soil, many such moments set the platform for the largest ODI win in terms of runs in history.
The glaring presence of empty seats across the 42,000-capacity stadium marred the contest to an extent. Former Indian player Yuvraj Singh also noted the alarming number of fans present in the stands, questioning the credibility of the 50-over format in today's day and age.
Citing several factors behind the poor turnout, KCA president Jayesh George told the media:
“The less participation of people is a matter of concern. There are multiple reasons for this. Pongal festival, Makaravilakku and CBSE Board Examinations are all reasons for this."
Apart from the reasons mentioned above, the controversy stirred up by Kerala sports minister V Abdurahiman’s comments on entertainment tax was not taken kindly by the people.
The minister said that those who are not pleased with the entertainment tax or are unable to afford it, need not witness the match in the stands. He told the media before the tickets went on sale:
“What is the need for reducing the tax? The demand is that the country is witnessing the phenomenon of price rise so that tax should be reduced. Those who are starving need not go to watch the match."
Claiming that the minister does not understand the way with which the Cricket Association functions in terms of hosting an international fixture, the KCA president added:
“The minister commented without really understanding how the Kerala Cricket Association works and how it hosts the matches. The low turnout is a setback to our hopes of hosting a World Cup match. The other state associations might use this opportunity and stake a claim for becoming a World Cup venue."
The Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati turned no stone unturned while hosting the first ODI between India and Sri Lanka. The venue also had a good turnout, which strengthened their case as a potential ground to play host to ODI World Cup matches.
With the ICC event scheduled to be solely held in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be on the lookout to identify venues that fit into their mold and criteria.
While prominent metropolitan cities are slated to hold matches in addition to crunch fixtures, other venues also have an opportunity to bring the ODI World Cup to their respective states or cities.
"Only 7201 tickets were sold for the third ODI between India and Sri Lanka" - KCA Officials
The third ODI between the Asian rivals, despite being a dead rubber, had a certain appeal to it.
Considering Virat Kohli and Team India's sparkling form, a high turnout, at least in the evening, was expected for the contest.
According to KCA officials, only 7201 tickets were officially sold for the match. Less than 20,000 people attended the match in total, including those who held complimentary tickets. KCA secretary Vinod Kumar said:
"There was a perception being created that the ticket rates for the ODI were exorbitantly high, which was not true at all. In fact, when the rates were much higher last time for the T20I, all the tickets were sold out."
The KCA secretary continued:
Even in this series, in Guwahati, tickets were being sold for rates as high as Rs 6,000. Kolkata had cheaper tickets but the Bengal Cricket Association can afford to do that because it gets regular international and IPL games."
Thiruvananthapuram hosted the first T20I between India and South Africa in September last year. The low-scoring encounter saw a solid turnout, but the same did not translate for the clash between the neighboring sides.
Will the Greenfield Cricket Stadium host a 2023 ODI World Cup match? Let us know what you think.